« AnteriorContinuar »
The very great difficulty there is in describing this line, either in words, or by the pencil (as was hinted before, when I first mentioned it) will make it necessary for me to proceed very slowly in what I have to P.51 say in this chapter, and to beg the reader's patience whilst I lead him step by step into the knowledge of what I think the sublime in form, so remarkably displayed in the human body; in which I believe, when. he is once acquainted with the idea of them, he will find this species of lines to be principally con. cerned.
First, then, let him consider fig. *, which represents a straight horn, with its contents, and he will find, as it varies like the cone, it is a form of some beauty, merely on that account.
Next let him observe in what manner, and in what degree the beauty of this horn is increased, in fig. + where it is supposed to be bent two different ways.
And lastly, let him attend to the vast increase of beauty, even to grace and elegance, in the same horn, fig. I, where it is supposed to have been twisted
round, at the same time, that it was bent two different ways, (as in the last figure.)
In the first of these figures, the dotted line down the middle expresses the straight lines of which it is composed; which, without the assistance of curve lines, or light and shade, would hardly shew it to have contents.
The same is true of the second, though by the bending of the horn, the straight dotted line is changed
into the beautiful waving-line. P.52 But in the last, this dotted line, by the twisting as
well as the bending of the horn, is changed from the
And I beg the same things may be understood of these serpentine-lines, that I have said before of the waving-lines. For as among the vast variety of waving-lines that may be conceived, there is but one that truly deserves the name of the line of beauty, so there is only one precise serpentine-line that I call the line of grace. Yet, even when they are made too bulging, or too tapering, though they certainly lose
of their beauty and grace, they do not become so wholly void of it, as not to be of excellent service in compositions, where beauty and grace are not particularly designed to be expressed in their greatest perfection.
Though I have distinguished these lines so parti, cularly as to give them the titles of the lines of beauty and grace, I mean that the use and application of them should still be confined by the principles I have laid P. 53 down for composition in general; and that they should be judiciously mixt and combined with one another, and even with those I may term plain lines, (in opposition to these) as the subject in hand requires. Thus the cornu-copia fig. *, is twisted and bent after the same manner, as the last figure of the horn; but more ornamented, and with a greater number of other lines · of the same twisted kind, winding round it with as quick returns as those of a screw.
This sort of form may be seen with yet more variations, (and therefore more beautiful) in the goat's horn, from which, in all probability, the ancients originally took the extreme elegant forms they have given their cornu-copias.
There is another way of considering this last figure of the horn I would recommend to my reader. in order to give him a clearer idea of the use both of the waving and serpentine-lines in composition.
This is to imagine the horn, thus bent, and twisted, to be cut length-ways by a very fine saw into two equal parts; and to observe one of these in the same
position the whole horn is represented in; and these two observations will naturally occur to him. First, that the edge of the saw must run from one end to the other of the horn in the line of beauty; so that the edges of this half of the horn will have a beautiful
shape: and, secondly, that wherever the dotted serP.54 pentine-line on the surface of the whole horn dips be
hind, and is lost to the eye, it immediately comes into sight on the hollow surface of the divided horn.
The use I shall make of these observations will appear very considerable in the application of them to the human form, which we are next to attempt.
It will be sufficient, therefore, at present only to oberve, first, that the whole horn acquires a beauty by its being thus genteely bent two different ways; secondly, that whatever lines are drawn on its external surface become graceful, as they must all of them, from the twist that is given the horn, partake in some degree or other of the shape of the serpentine-line : and, lastly, when the horn is split, and the inner, as well as the outward surface of its shell-like form is exposed, the eye is peculiarly entertained and relieved in the pursuit of these serpentine-lines, as in their twistings their concavities and convexities are alternately offered to its view. Hollow forms, therefore, composed of such lines are extremely beautiful and pleasing to the eye; in many cases more so, than those of solid bodies.
Almost all the muscles, and bones, of which the human form is composed, have more or less of these kind of twists in them; and give in a less degree, the same kind of appearance to the parts which cover
them, and are the immediate object of the eye: and for this reason it is that I have been so particular in describing these forms of the bent, and twisted, and ornamented horn.
There is scarce a straight bone in the whole body. P.55 Almost all of them are not only bent different ways, but have a kind of twist, which in some of them is very graceful; and the muscles annexed to them, though they are of various shapes, appropriated to their particular uses, generally have their component fibres running in these serpentine-lines, surrounding and conforming themselves to the varied shapes of the bones they belong to: more especially in the limbs. Anatomists are so satisfied of this, that they take a pleasure in distinguishing their several beauties. I shall only instance in the thigh-bone, and those about the hips.
The thigh-bone fig. *, has the waving and twisted turn of the horn, 58: but the beautiful bones adjoin. ing, called the ossa innominata t, have, with greater variety, the same turns and twists of that horn when it is cut; and its inner and outward surfaces are ex. posed to the eye.
How ornamental these bones appear, when the prejudice we conceive against them, as being part of a skeleton, is taken off, by adding a little foliage to them, may be seen in fig. 1–Such shell-like winding forms, mixt with foliage, twisting about them, are made use of in all ornaments; a kind of composition calculated merely to please the eye. Divest these of their serpentine twinings and they immediately lose
* Fig. 62. R. p. 2.
+ Fig. 60. B. p. 2.
Fig. 61. B. p. 2.